Guy Garvey is certainly a man of the people. Like a Lowry painting, his words create pictures in my mind of very English landscapes. Like an onslaught of loveliness, Elbow‘s epic records such as the sensational The Seldom Seen Kid (2008) and the new, equally stunning Little Fictions are brought to life through the wondrous wall of sound produced by the Northern five piece.
Manchester’s Apollo is the perfect arena, the only thing that seems to be missing is a flock of birds flying through the auditorium itself as Elbow’s uplifting sound plays out. They’re not the most enthralling band to watch live, but they’re up there in terms of achieving a perfect live sound compared to their slickly produced records. ‘Mirrorball’ in particular catches my attention, the fluttering keys from Craig Potter and wonderful violins from two extremely talented backup singers, make every hair stand up on my body.
Revelling in this extremely appreciative home crowd, Garvey is on fire in terms of crowd participation. Openly taking the piss out of his own cheesiness by instigating a mass waving of arms from side to side, “let’s do more of this”, he jests as they break into ‘Kindling’. As the set goes on, it only gets better and there is never a lull between songs or dull moment. Remaining tracks ‘The Birds’ and ‘Magnificent (She Says)’ are just as powerful as the tracks that began the set. Elbow have been grinding away in the industry for a couple of decades now, and it’s clear from tonight’s reception that they’re greatly respected in their home town.
It’s around the latter stages that Guy talks about the efforts of a local charity which will be waiting for spare change when the punters leave. He talks about his dreams of creating a homeless free Manchester, and his wishes are reciprocated with a warm cheer and ovation of agreement. To finish the set, Elbow bring out one of their biggest weapons, ‘One Day Like This’. The whimsical strings and marching rhythm have everyone on their feet as people shout back the words “throw those curtains wide/one day like this a year will see my right” – it’s another spine tingling moment.
For the encore, Elbow play the beautiful ‘Lippy Kids’ from their 2011 album Build A Rocket Boys! As Garvey belts out those exact words in his passionate, homely style, I can’t help but look back at points in my own life and smile. It really takes me back to joyous times I haven’t thought about for a while. The equally weighted ‘Grounds for Divorce’ feels like a look into the future, despite its dark connotations from the title and lyrics. It fills me with hope and happiness as I push out the words “one day we’ll be drinking with the seldom seen kid”. It’s the perfect end to a solid hour and a half of music.
Words: Connor Ryan
Photo Credit: @TrustFox